The trickling wellspring that was my Federal COVID insurance has dried up. I have no source of income, now, whatsoever. Next week I have to apply welfare, which will give me the princely sum of $740 a month. That amount will be reduced because I am living with my pensioner sister, whose limited income will be considered a “supplement” to my own. I’ve tried to go back to work several times this year, each time resulting in me having a breakdown on the job, and losing my employment, leading to my finally developing agoraphobia. I DESPERATELY need help; I can’t survive on welfare, and, frankly, I’m contemplating some very unhealthy things. For the love of all that’s holy, please fucking HELP me.
They Came in Peace is only a few days away from release.
Yet, I feel nothing.
I feel as though my life is over. The friends I had long gone…the friends I deserved chased away by my own fear of being hurt again…my children now outgrowing spending one out of every two weekends with their loser dad…
…agoraphobia so bad I had a panic attack that essentially rendered me unemployable…
Whenever I sleep, I dream of times that once were, friends long gone, and the sweet, immortal energy of youth.
All three things I will never know again.
A former friend whom I loved like a brother often told me I was the most resilient person he knew; but even the most resilient object has a shatterpoint; a moment or event under which stress or accumulated stress causes massive failure to the object, overall.
That’s what causes jet aircraft to disintegrate midair, or condominium towers to collapse, that’s what killed the Columbia in reentry and countless other tragedies.
I’ve reached my shatterpoint.
I’m living in a present with no future, haunted by demons of my past.
I’ve had more than I can take, and I just want everything to end.
I have been trying since last year to get mental health services in English – my native language, and one of two official languages in Canada.
Quebec has, for over 40 years, claimed that the English language posed a clear and present danger to the French language in Quebec, and for over 40 years, oppressive language laws meant to restrict the dissemination of English have whittled away at the historic English-speaking communities of Quebec.
And the institutionalized discrimination doesn’t stop there, by the way. If you’re a member of a non-Christian religion, you can’t work in a government job if you wear “religious headgear” or “overtly display” your religious beliefs. They SAY the law applies to Christians, too, but the number of times you see people with a cross around their neck, or the fact that the Quebec legislative assembly refuses to take down their “historic” crucifix which hangs over all actions of the parliament below, basically, if you’re not French-speaking and you’re not white, Quebec will never fully welcome you.
Even French-speaking People of Colour are mistreated here, underrepresented in government, civil service, and ghettoized. Not to mention the classical refrain of how non-whites are treated by law enforcement.
My experience may not be unique, but let me tell you I feel fucking horribly alone, right now, in a city I’ve lived in most of my life, in the province I was born into. The fact is, I can even trace my ancestral roots back to the first French settlers of this province.
BUT, because I was raised in English, because of my funny last name, I will never be un Quebecois.
And that therefore means that I can’t find English-language mental health services to help me treat my aforementioned anxiety, depression, and self-obsessed short fuse.
The reason I want it to be in English by someone who is fluent in English is to avoid having to stop mid-session to explain what I just said in simpler terms, or worse, say “I wish I were dead,” a common enough expression in English if a morbid one LITERALLY MISINTERPRETED as “This person is suicidal and intervention is required.”
The time I said that to a French Quebec therapist who had “conversational English” skills, I wound up being taken to the hospital forcibly and put on 72-hour hold.
…By the way, do you know how they collect people in crisis from their homes to bring them to the funny farm, in Quebec?
They – I shit you not – send SWAT to get you.
And SWAT treats you like an armed threat.
Besides dragging me out of bed with a gun to my forehead, they double-handcuffed my hands behind my back and then proceeded to toss my apartment in case I had guns, explosives, or, presumably some sort of biological or thermonuclear device. Then they drag me down to an ambulance and haul me away.
Then the 72-hour hold gets extended, because you were “unusually agitated” when brought into hospital.
If I’m being honest with myself, I’ve been severely depressed since my mother died, last year. Thankfully it was old age and not that damn COVID, but we couldn’t even be in hospital with her when she passed.
I’m divorced, and I’ve been struggling to find a proper job since before THAT happened, so I can’t even help support my kids, and my ex earns so much the Government had the audacity to tell me to get alimony from her. Like, fuck you, no.
My ex also has primary custody of our kids, and controls when I visit them. She also, sadly, weaponizes that access to punish me when it suits her.
So yeah; depressed, anxious, struggling to do more than get by…and I can’t get any help or support because of my mother tongue.
I should add that while I could go into PRIVATE therapy in English in Quebec, that would be in the For-Profit tier of health care, and I would have to PAY for the privilege of mental health. With what money?
Why not go to French therapy if you’re fluent in French? Well, that’s just it – I AM fluent, most English speaking Quebecers are, I daresay. But therapy is supposed to be as unfiltered as possible. Using a second language to express what you’re feeling, what you’re thinking is one POWERFUL filter that will, whether you want it to or not completely remove your expressiveness. You’ll still be able to communicate facts…but not what you’re feeling. Believe me, I speak from experience.
If you speak English, Quebec will never be your home.
Who in eighteen centuries, has had the common humanity to pray for the one sinner that needed it most, our one fellow and brother who most needed a friend yet had not a single one, the one sinner among us all who had the highest and clearest right to every Christian’s daily and nightly prayers, for the plain and unassailable reason that his was the first and greatest need, he being among sinners the supremest?
-Samuel “Mark Twain” Clemens
Who, twenty-one hundred years later, prays for me?
…when the one person whose forgiveness you need the most will never deign to treat you with humanity?
God knows, the older I get, the darker the future gets. And my mind insists on turning a judging eye at my past, at all of it.
I’ve tried to make peace with my past; apologizing to those I had wronged, and because of my temper, because of my heightened sense of righteous indignation, rebuked those who wronged me.
But even then, how much damage to myself have I done? I’ve always had strong, passionate emotions; always been governed by them. Neurodivergent, I believe is the current popular term for people like me who just can’t fit in with society’s expectations of “normal.”
God knows I grew up in a less understanding era; laughed at for being different throughout my youth, bullied for being the only English-speaking kid in a French Quebec grade school, traumatized by my father at home, and put through all the hell that the Other is put through in high school, college, and, life.
I’m no innocent; I’ve learned how to hurt people the most intimately, how to use their secrets as ammunition, how to manipulate people…when life teaches you cruelty, you learn to be cruel.
But through all my life, all I have done is searched out kindness; all I ever wanted when I was a kid was to be accepted. All I ever wanted was to be surrounded by people I could love, and more importantly, trust.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve failed people’s trust; or the number of times my trust in others was misplaced.
But nobody made these choices for me. Nobody else took the actions I took. No one else fucked up my life but me. Oh, some people are certainly as guilty as I am in the destruction of old Steve, some even relished it. But, it was all me, in the end.
All the apologizing and making peace with the past can only heal so much, only resolve so much. There are some mistakes I’ve made I’ll always regret, always rebuke myself for. A small but not insignificant number of people deserved – and some even still deserve better than I can give, or that I have given.
I do my goddamned best to survive, to help provide for my kids, but poverty-level income doesn’t do much to help, nor does racist French-Quebec Language laws and business culture.
I’m trying to be better, do better, but all I seem to do is keep fucking up, or worse, not making any progress at all.
Ultimately, I’m going through all of this alone. Nothing could change that, really; but maybe if I’d have made better choices, what I’d be going through might not be so bad.
What’s this got to do with They Came in Peace? Not a hell of a lot. But what’s that book got to do with anything other than chronicling the same inner demons I’m still grappling with today? My vain fucking hope I could turn a buck selling a story.
They always tell you to pursue your dreams; ask out the pretty girl; reach for the brass ring; take a leap of faith.
They don’t tell you that odds are you’ll give up on your dreams. And if you don’t, odds are you’ll live a life of misery and drudgery, because your dream is either unattainable or you fucked up along the way.
The pretty girl can always do better than you; and that brass ring is so smooth that even if you grab it, hang on for your fucking life because if you let go, you will fall.
I’ve spent my life quixotically; tilting at windmills like a fool, and now I’m just an old fucking fool living with ghosts and regrets, alone, and tired.
All I can do is keep trying, but what they never, ever tell you is how hard it is to keep reaching and falling; that even the most resilient material can be shattered; that eventually you just run out of strength. At some point, you just stop; there’s nowhere else to go, nothing left to do, no new tales to tell and no new tricks to try. Eventually, you settle.